Sholeh Wolpé: If I Do Not Translate, It’s A Sin – Guernica

In 2007, she translated the twentieth-century Iranian poet and feminist Forugh Farrokhzad in the collection Sin.

Sholeh Wolpé: I didn’t know it was going to be my next translation project. I was invited by San Jose State University to give a talk on Farīd Ud-Dīn Attar. I said OK, fantastic, because I love this poet and I’m happy to talk about his work, and I looked for representative poems from Conference. I noticed, first of all, that in a language where we don’t have gendered pronouns, no “he” or “she,” the translated poetry I was picking up had genders. All the birds were “he.” And God is a “He.” [The translator had] already decided that it’s all male. That didn’t sit right with me. And I just did not feel the spirit of the poem spoke to me in those translations as it did in Persian.